Finding the time to pause and reflect on the past busy months, I notice that my thoughts are still spinning from all the learning and growth I have experienced with staff. At the start of the year, I always feel the pressure to do more and faster. At Seba Beach, we have launched several new initiatives including Response to Intervention, a school-wide numeracy program, and a proactive discipline plan which incorporates Collaborative Problem Solving. All these changes take time, resources, and sustained enthusiasm to become a permanent part of the culture in a school. At times, it can feel like there are endless tasks to accomplish and that the need to hurry is overwhelming.
Last week, I was asked to observe students in a Grade One art class. They were tearing squares of construction paper and using them to create collages of Fall trees, and I helped one little boy to begin his work. Eventually, I left him to help other children with the work of pasting paper and creating their art. Each time I looked back, the boy was hard at work, but soon I realised that he was simply tearing squares of paper and hadn’t begun to glue them into his collage. When the pile of torn paper was several inches high, I approached him and asked if he would like some help getting started with the glue. He looked calmly at me and whispered “Shhh, Miss Reid, I’m still practicing.”
When I saw the peaceful look on the face of the little boy creating his collage, I was reminded of the importance of entering change slowly and deliberately with a clear vision for what we want to accomplish. If we are not intentional in establishing our definitions of success, we risk running straight past the markers or in the wrong direction entirely. During our session work around inclusion with Dianne McConnell, we were asked to define the terms “inclusion” and “inclusive education system.” As I tried to incorporate all the aspects of my vision for inclusion into a single, cohesive definition, it became obvious that I while actively work toward particular attributes of this vision, I have rarely considered how they are interrelated.
As we strive to be “agents of change” within our educational settings, it’s so important to pause to consider what our definitions of success for inclusion really are… and what implications these have for classroom practice. In my coaching work, I will be asking teachers for their definition of inclusion as we begin our collaborative process. Comparing and contrasting our different understandings of these complex terms, supports considering all the diverse facets of inclusive education and helps to align our goals. Sometimes, unpacking the meaning of a word can mean removing barriers to building the kind of classrooms we strive for. I hope to share these conversations with many colleagues over the next little while?